Casinos Forced to Pay Licensing Fee Hike or Face Shut Down

In March, the Indian state of Goa, through its government, announced a steep rise in casino licensing fees for both venues on land and in water in an effort to boost local revenue. This raise quadrupled fees for all casinos, and the fee grew exponentially as the capacity size of the casino was considered. Many stalled paying the higher fees in hopes of an official repeal after requesting interim relief with local courts and Goa’s government.

However, after a stern rejection made by Bombay’s High Courts in regard to Goa’s newest floating casino Golden Globe applying for relief, many anted up and paid the bill by the stated May 1st deadline. The Courts stated that the fees were indiscriminatory and industry-wide thus there was no reason to give relief to Golden Globe or any other operator. The Courts also provided the Government of Goa to take whatever action necessary if fees were not paid.

Landlocked casinos then lobbied Goa’s government to allow them to provide live gambling, which is only available to floating casinos, to assist with paying the higher fees – they were denied this request by the Government. An extended deadline was given to operators, the final deadline for payments due the 8th of May. Still, some saw no refugee even with the extension because the fees were simply too much and so three of Goa’s casinos which could not pay the new fee price were forced to turn over their license and close – The Crown, Carnival, and Golden Globe.

Goa’s largest land casino, Goan Hotels & Realty, also closed for not paying its dues by the extended deadline. However, the High Courts of Bombay came to Goan’s rescue on the 10th of May by granting interim relief to the casino. This allowed Goan Hotels & Realty to continue operating, however, the Courts demanded an immediate payment of Rs 100m toward their casino license. Many wondered why the Courts came to provide interim relief for Goan but not Golden Globe or any of the other operators, this is because Goan reasoned that they had applied to reduce their casino game floor from over 1,000 square meters to 300, which in turn would significantly reduce their fees from Rs 400m to Rs 100m.

If this reduction in game floor size occurs, then their partial payment would fulfill their full license obligations. For those off-put by this, no worries, Golden Globe has a chance to repeal the High Courts decision on their denial of relief. However, there is doubt it will be provided since Goan Hotel & Realty is attempting to reduce its size as Golden Globe had no intention of such. There may be a possibility for the other two closed venues to apply for a game floor reduction to lower their license fee in order to meet their obligations. What happens from now on is up to those inactive operators to take up with Bombay’s High Courts. In the meantime, twelve casinos remain fully operational and may still be enjoyed in Goa as well as India friendly casinos found online.